The Potato Hack – Quick Start Guide

I have received a few emails asking for tips and advice on getting started with the Potato Hack Diet. I really think people are overthinking this one. The health and fitness community is full of complex ideas, this is not one of them.

This week I assembled and organized my favorite blog posts related to the potato on the Potato Hack Diet Best of Page.

In this post, I am going to walk you through how I prepare potatoes. Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you.

Getting Started

I boil all my potatoes and then store them in the refrigerator. If the potatoes are not organic, I will peel them prior to boiling them. So the supply list to get started is:

  1. potato peeler.
  2. cutting board and knife to cut up large potatoes (more on that later).
  3. stockpot large enough to boil 5 pounds of potatoes. You’ll save time preparing large batches of potatoes.
  4. colander to drain off the boiling water.
  5. storage container for the cooked potatoes.

Buying a suitable storage container dedicated to cooked potatoes was a great decision for me. The container I have is flat and can hold a little more than 5 pounds of cooked potatoes perfectly. Also, you can set other items in the refrigerator on top of it, so it is space-saving.

The size of the storage container you purchase will be the size that fits best in your refrigerator. Amazon has many options, but I advise visiting one of those container stores to find the one that is best for you.

Buying Potatoes

There are just 2 stores I go to for potatoes in my Seattle neighborhood of Ballard and they happen to be right next to each other. Trader Joe’s and Cash & Carry. Cash & Carry is a restaurant supply store. I’m surprised at the number of people that believe that the store is only for restaurant people. Nope. Anybody can shop at Cash & Carry. No membership is required.

Restaurant supply stores are awesome. The prices are low and the lines move fast. When I go to Cash & Carry, I purchase a 15-pound of potatoes. The price ranges from $2 to $5 throughout the past two years but averages $3.50. A steal.

Trader Joe’s has an organic red potato 5-pound bag that sells for about $5.

If your time is valuable to purchase organic, because you will not need to peel the potatoes, plus they have more nutrition. If you want to save money, purchase non-organic. I cycle between both options.

Red, Yellow, or Russet?

The three most common options for potatoes are going to be red, yellow, and russet. 98% of the time I will purchase red or yellow. They hold up much better structurally when you take them in and out of the refrigerator over a day or two.

Russet potatoes get mushy quickly. The only time I get Russet is if I get a really good price and I know I’m doing a strict potato hack, so I’m not using those potatoes two days later.



I’ve boiled so many potatoes in the last two years, my hands have developed muscle memory as if I were driving a manual car. Here is how I’ve optimized my potato preparation.

  1. Peel directly into a colander if the potatoes are not organic.
  2. Place the potato directly into the cleaned and dried storage container.
  3. Fill the storage container. When I first started hacking, I would weigh the potatoes. Once I figured out my container could hold 5.5 pounds, then I put my scale away.
  4. Remove each potato. If it is small, place it in a stockpot, otherwise chop it into parts. For me, a medium potato is 2 or 3 parts. A large potato will be more. My goal is to have approximately equal size potato parts. I want them to boil at the same rate.
  5. Once that is complete, I rinse the potatoes in the stockpot.
  6. Refill the stockpot with clean water and boil.
  7. While the potatoes are boiling, empty peels in a compost bin.
  8. Boil until done to your liking. I tend to cook mine a little longer than Tim Steele describes in his book The Potato Hack, but whatever you like is the right answer. Experiment.
  9. Drain and let potatoes cool. The reason I want the potatoes to cool is that if I don’t, the steam will collect on the roof of the storage container and drain down onto the potatoes, making them mushy more quickly. If I want the potatoes to cool fast, I will spread them on a cookie sheet and place them outside (provided the outside is cooler than the inside).
  10. Put the cooled potatoes in the storage bin and refrigerate.

That is my optimized path. I’m sure you’ll find your own.

Just Get Started

People that read health and fitness blogs have this tendency to research things to death before starting something new. There is definitely a time and a place for that thinking. However, this is not it. A big part of understanding the potato hack comes from the feeling you will get when you deprive your brain of flavor while at the same time filling your belly which shuts off your hunger hormones. And then doing it again for a few days. It is a powerful lesson that you need to experience to understand.

Go forth and potato hack! And if my fellow potato hackers have any additional quick-start tips, please leave a comment below.



Add yours

  1. I like Tim’s advice to pick the kind of potato you want for the eating experience you want. I prefer reds or whites boiled when i take my container to lunch; they’re more apple-like, firmer, more filling.

    I like Yukon Golds for their buttery flavor but they leave me very hungry if I take them for lunch; so now, I prefer to just mash them up with some chicken broth and they are yummy.

    While prepping and boiling the potatoes, I may also bake some russets in aluminum foil. After an hour in the oven, take them out still in foil, cool, and put them in the fridge. I can then take microwave them at work or at home; I also like chopping them into wedges and baking them a bit. Adds variety. My local Harris Teeter grocery offers plastic-wrapped russets that can go right into the microwave, but I don’t like the idea of the chemicals in the plastic possibly leeching into the potato under high heat, so I avoid those.

    I think Tim says on his blog that he cools the boiled potatoes under running cold water to stop them cooking; I’ll try that next time.

    And thank you for creating a Best Of page of your potato posts! Your blog is where I first heard about the hack and it’s great to have all those posts conveniently organized.

    I tend to prefer eating potatoes by day with a regular supper. I’ve tried the hack a few times and am out of my mind with hunger by the middle of the second day. I should try again now that I have more knowledge of how to mix up the varieties of potatoes and prep methods.

  2. @Mike – Thanks for the tips.

    The big reason I created the BEST OF page was that most of the new readers coming to this site via search were landing on 2 potato posts which had the least amount of useful info. Hopefully, the search engines will figure out the new BEST OF page should be weighted more.

  3. Great post, MAS! Did you happen to hear Chris Kresser on Joe Rogan’s podcast talking about the potato hack and RS?:

  4. @Tim – Yes! Congrats. That mention inspired me to organize all my potato posts, which was something that had been on my to-do list for more than a month.

  5. Do you refrigerate raw potatoes when you get them home from the store?

    How long do cooked potatoes last in the refrigerator?

  6. @Alec – I do not refrigerate raw potatoes. A dark cabinet works for me.

    Cooked potatoes last 3-5 days in the refrigerator. You should be able to eat 5# in 5 days. I aim for 3 at the latest.

  7. @MAS
    Off topic.
    Did you by any chance catch the Anthony Bourdain (Parts Unknown — CNN) episode on Seattlle this past Sunday? Seems like a fun place. They touched on a lot of the growth and building that you mention from time to time.

  8. @jim – Thanks for the tip. I just watched the show. I love how they closed the show with everyone lip-syncing the lyrics to the closing song.

  9. “I want to thank and acknowledge the great filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson here. We shamelessly ripped off a particularly beautiful concept from his film Magnolia for the final sequence of the show.” –AB
    Song: Mark Lanegan – Strange Religion

  10. @Jim – Now I want to go back and watch Magnolia again.

  11. Do you think for someone with skin issues and a messed up gut function that the potato hack may not be the best idea or any tips on how paired with probiotics or other things it could help resolve these issues?

  12. @Andy – I don’t know.

  13. I stopped eating the peel of organic potato as well. I was married to a potato farmer for 30 years. There are more eyes on organic potatoes and more fungi on the outside, I know that, because I’ve got a license to pick out diseased potatoes. Organic races need to be more resistant against worms and insects, so it stands to reason that they will produce more solanine. Fusarium, Helminthosporium and Rhizoctonia, often found on the tubers are well known for the mycotoxins they produce. I started getting nightly muscle cramps when I ate organic potatoes with their peel. Now that I peel them, it has stopped.

  14. @Maureen – Thank you for the info. I had no idea.

  15. Crystal Valmorgen

    Aug 13, 2019 — 1:23 am

    Can I eat the potatoes after they have cooled for a few hours or is it imperative to wait 24h?

  16. @Crystal – Even cooked – still warm – potatoes work for appetite suppression. Cooling them just adds extra benefit.

    I dropped weight using both cooked and cooled potatoes.

    I do not know how many hours it takes for the Resistant Starch to develop. Maybe Tim can rejoin this comment thread?

  17. I’m new to your site and just read a few of your posts. I like your writing style and will be sure to check out more of your work.

    Please forgive me if I am missing the answer to these (possibly obvious) questions:

    1) On this diet, do you eat nothing but potatoes every single time you are hungry or is this just once a day meal replacement (such as swapping out the largest meal)?
    2) How many days do you do this in a row? In other words, is there a recommended stopping point (after “x” days regardless of weight loss, or just keep going until after desired weight loss is achieved)?
    3) How often should this method be revisited (seasonally like a cleansing, weekly/monthly like a maintenance program, or as needed based off of desired weight goals)?
    4) Once the potatoes are prepared and cooled, is it ok to reheat them if one prefers a hot “meal”?
    5) Are there any reasons why, once the goal has been achieved, that one wouldn’t be able to resume a(n assumed mostly healthy) regular diet/lifestyle? The reason I ask is b/c many people have difficulty losing weight even though they are appropriately active and eat a noble diet. Is it safe to assume that this potato exercise could be like hitting the reset button and maybe the body will better respond to those thoughtful efforts going forward?

    I may be guilty of overthinking, as you so aptly pointed out, but before embarking on this novel approach, I wish to be clear in my understanding.

    Thank you!

  18. @Mary -Here are my answers to your questions,.

    1 – It is all meal replacement. Be it one meal a day or 5 days straight or 10 meals a week. You decide based on your goals and motivation. My level changed from day to day and week to week. The more weight you need to lose and the more motivated you are would means replacing more meals. You can even do a partial meal replacement (although less effective).
    See –>

    2- As you hit your target weight, you will likely potato hack less. At that point, you’ll need to figure out how much you need to continue to do to maintain. It will vary from person to person. But if you abandon potatoes and resume “normal” eating, you could regain. Potatoes are a reminder to keep calories in check in a calorie abundant world.

    3- Only you can answer that question. It will mostly depend upon how calorie dense your non-potato meals are.

    4- Yes

    5- We are all different, so it is impossible to have a single answer for that question. I tape measure a few times a week. If I go up 1/2 inch, I add more potatoes. If I get too lean, I reduce potatoes. I can finely tune my weight to the exact point I want.

    Don’t overthink or over research. Start with one meal.

  19. Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply!

  20. Sylvia Elliott

    Jan 13, 2022 — 7:32 am

    Appreciate everyone’s input. I have started “hacking” in the hopes of reducing elevated LDL, Triglycerides, Hgb A1C and Cholesterol…the weight loss I wouldn’t complain about.

    I’ll try to remember to come back and update how it goes for me.
    Good luck with your individual journeys!

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